St. George, Helsinki’s saloon

Located inside a classified monument, the St. George Hotel defines luxury as a matter of details and moments borne of the mingling of art, design, culture, gastronomy and well-being. The creative director Mirkku Kullberg unveils the objective of the “second chapter” for this Finnish five star facility and explains the idea of creating a sophisticated detachment between interior and exterior

St.George, Helsinki
St.George, Helsinki

Which designers arranged the spaces and chose the furnishings?
Hotel St. George design process was a collaboration between inhouse creative team and external partners.
I was asked to take the role as Creative Director May 2017 and we actually redesigned the concept during the summer. The idea was to challenge the word and world of luxury. Today’s luxury is more than classy interior design with traditional approach to the ambiance. At Hotel St. George luxury is about details and moments created with art, design, culture, cuisine and wellbeing. The statement is “Moments are More”. Every single one of them.
I believe that true luxury is authentic and connected to the culture with quality and passion. True luxury is about silence, solitude and security. It is about basic we desire and search more and more in today’s hectic and overloaded lives.
Creative team collaborated with a Helsinki based architect studio Carola Rytsölä.  Operative collaboration was a tight collaboration with Arkval Taide, a architect office in Helsinki.
Carola Rytsölä concentrated on spatial planning, technical solutions and fixed furniture. Her team worked in tight collaboration with the Hotel St. George inhouse team for the reaching the ideal dialogue between architecture, design and art.
Art, furniture, rugs, books, objects, all were individually designed for each 153 rooms and public ares: Wintergarden, lobbies, restaurants and spa.

St.George, Helsinki
St.George, Helsinki

How does the hotel fit into the city of Helsinki?
The idea was from the beginning that Hotel St. George would be a Helsinki hotel, which really would understand the city, with connection to the city culture and nature around it. We believe that city outside is part of the hotel experience and there should be a natural and authentic dialogue between them. Internationally recognized designers Klaus Haapaniemi, Nordic brands were mixed with care to European classics and masters. A search for cosmopolitan ambiance toned to Helsinki spirit.

The hotel is located in a historic building: what are the changes that the structure has undergone?
The property was super challenging. As it is a listed building the whole drawing process was an intensive process. Arkval Taide was engaged for the project at early stage.With their experience of Helsinki architecture and similar listed buildings the project was executed with respect to the property but also taking into consideration the needs of a hotel with spa, restaurants, rooms etc all connected to operative facilities.

What do you expect from the “second chapter” of the St George Hotel?
I believe that Helsinki got a new living room and as there are more and more visitors in the city Hotel St. George would tell the story of the building, its history, about the passionate project we executed.
Five start luxury can be so much more and big hotels can and should feel intimate and personal. Beauty has also a renaissance. Good ethics and aesthetics should be an instrumental part of designing and planning new hotels.

In addition to hosting works of art, do you organize cultural events inside the hotel?
As said Hotels St. George wants and will be a living room of Helsinki. Reading room at the Bakery is a perfect place for small gatherings, book readings, poetry eveings. Wintergarden has all facilities for cinema nights, art talks and encounters with people.
A Programming schedule was planned at early stage of the concept work and there are several ideas ready planned for guests and locals to join.

How did you manage to reconcile the historical architectural facade with the contemporary style interior?
Hotel St.George façade is tightly protected. We wanted to create a sophisticated difference between the exterior and interior. I think that designing fake classical interiors does not respect the guest nor the property. As said all good aesthetics is a combination of classics and contemporary interpretations. It is all about quality in design and craftsmanship. I love old classical hotels with original decorations and structures. I think the touch is perfect when the new and old meet in harmony and shades of colors.

Are the furnishings of the structure made by local or international companies? What are they?
Fixed furniture are worked with local Finnish and Estonian carpenter factories. Small suppliers, who really dedicated they efforts on this project. Carola Rytsölä’a team with Minna Laine from Hotel St George worked side by side with the manufacturers till last days before opening. There were a lot of individual solutions as the rooms are so different, old property is always challenging but definitely inspiring.

Which are the benefits and what does it mean to be part of the “Design Hotels” group?
Design Hotels is a fantastic partner with super passionate people with background form different industries and interests in art, culture, design. They think differently and embrace the curiosity. They are extremely dedicated and they PR and Communication team is just amazing. I had worked with them with some projects with Artek and it was a dream to work with them again.
The sales and RM support was beside us the whole process, supported with the delays with the opening schedules and kept our hopes and dreams high.

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